Central Otago & the Rail Trail
First I will explain what the Rail Trail is all about and then will list the various places you can stay for the night, take a break, have a coffee,
rent a bike, stop at the pub, hve a meal. All the places that will make your visit to Otago Central a more fulfilling experience.
You don't even have to ride or walk the Rail Trail to enjoy the places in your travels. These businesses are what makes Central Otago so wonderful along with the grandiose scenery as a backdrop. We just can't stop going back and back with any excuse giving us reason.
Have you been to the Cavalcade? or the Art Deco Weekend at Ranfurly?
or visited historic Naseby and tried the ancient sport of curling? or taken the Taieri Gorge Railway, one of the world's great train trips? That's just the beginning of the adventure one finds in the Otago Central region.
If you miss Central Otago you miss a magic part of New Zealand.
So what's this Rail Trail?
From Middlemarch to Clyde it is one of the finest pathways in the world designed especially for walkers, mountain bikers and the occassional horse. The path was created on the old railroad bed of the former railway line that began life at the turn of the century. It was the link from Dunedin, then New Zealand's largest city, to the newly discovered goldfields and for 83 years carried passengers and freight. throughout the region.
it was in 1990 the 150 kilometre line was closed. In 1993 the New Zealand Department of Conservation purchased the line and after six years and $850,000 the rail trail became a reality.
All the 68 railway bridges have been upgraded and hand railed and all the railway rails, sleepers and crushed rock were removed and replaced with gravel that is easy to walk and ride upon.
The official opening was in February 2000 thus forever saving an area of extreme importance to anyone who wishes to enjoy a ride or a walk through on eof the most magestic and remote areas of New Zealand here-to-for not available. Even historically it is of great importance knowing it shall forever be a place that once once the golden heart of the country and still is as far as beauty is concerned.
The catch phrase is - Ride It! Walk It! Experience It!
You can pick and choose yourself how much or how long you want to ride or walk the Rail Trail. Don't rush the beauty around you is why one goes there to enjoy and the various stopping off spots need to be savoured also.
You might meet new friends at one of the pubs and decide to stay the night who knows?
You can travel either direction on the Trail entering or leaving at any intersection with a public highway. You are allowed to bring your dog, on a leash, onl between Clyde and Alexandra.
Most people just do sections as day trips. If you plan to do the entire trail by bike allow at least 3-5 days and if you are walking 5-7 days.
There are many attractions along the way such as the tunnels, viaducts and the old trestle bridge at Muttontown. The Trail passes through or by historic towns such as Clyde, Ranfurly, Matakanui and by historic country pubs still used as the local watering holes.
Stop to see the ghost of St. Bathans and the Blue Lake created by the early gold mining. The Hayes Engineering Workshop in Oturehua or the Naseby Forest and the Curling Rink. Much, much more.
We are now in the proces of upgrading this web page to provide you with the places, accommodations and businesses that you can be guaranteed will highlight any time you visit Central Otago and its Rail Trail.
The Rail Trail has been broken down into six segments so you can figure out how best to plan your visit. remeber you can pick and choose where you wish to get on or get off when the Rail Trail crosses a public access
and can go either direction. car parking and visitor information is at most of the railheads at the towns mentioned below.
Segment One - Clyde to Catto Creek (25kms)
Clyde to Alexandra (8kms)
Alexandra to Chatto Creek (17kms)
Clyde is the beginning or end of the r\RailTrail. You will cross a wooden trestle bridge on this segment. This portion of the Trail will provide you with the beautiful Otago schist rock formations along the way.
Segment Two - Chatto Creek to Lauder (19kms)
Chatto Creek to Omakau (10kms)
Omakau to Lauder (9kms)
This portion goes through the lower Manuherikia Valley with the 1650 metre Dunstan Mountains to the southeast. The community of Omaka came into being as a result of the railroad. The town of Ophir was once the most popular until the building of the railroad. Near Lauder is the Poolburn Gorge.
Segment Three - Lauder to Oturehua (23kms)
Good place for a day visit and/or a picnic at Poolburn Gorge. A great little coffee place in the shape of a train engine is located by the car park near Lauder. This portion takes you over the longest bridge (110.6m), through two tunnels, Poolburn Gorge,the 37m high Poolburn Viaduct and croosing the Ida Valley passing the Idaburn Dam.
Segment Four - Oturehua to Ranfurly - (25kms)
Oturehua to Wedderburn (11kms)
Weddrburn to Ranfurly (14kms)
Climbing Rough Ridge the descent down and then crosses the Maniototo Plains ending in Ranfurly. an exciting portion of the Trail.
An authentic 1930's GIlchrist's Store is still in operation and the historic Hayes Engineering Workshop.
Segment Five - Ranfurly to Hyde (32kms)
Ranfurly to Daisybank - (21kms)
Daisybank to Hyde - (11kms)
Through the Maniototo Plain to the town of Waipiata. it then follows the Taieri River to Hyde. This is whee the historic stone bridge is located at Tiroiti, the 32m high Price's Creek Viaduct and the 152m long Price's Creek tunnel.
Segment Six - Hyde to Middlemarch - (27kms)
The Taieri Gorge out of Hyde becomes the Strath Taieri Plain.
The Trail crosses over numerous small bridges and by three former railroad stations.
So now we have been on the Rail Trail from beginning to end. Remember you do not need to use the Trail to enjoy all this area has to offer. The many small towns, pubs and businesses around are all worth having a visit.
We travel by our bus and have more than enjoyed exploring the region.
You will find accommodation, food and supplies, bicycle rentals and repairs, good coffee and discover the historical information that drove thousands to descend upon Central Otago in search of gold. and meet their descendants who usually have a story or two worth buying them a beer for.